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Kinsella demands apology from NDP over BC Rail allegations

A controversial B.C. Liberal Party insider whose name has surfaced at the long-running B.C. legislature raid trial says the B.C. New Democratic Party is defaming him in their effort to win next month's election.

In the midst of a provincial election campaign at which his name has been bandied about by the Opposition, Patrick Kinsella's lawyer has sent a letter to the NDP saying the allegations made about him and his involvement in the government sale of BC Rail are defamatory, malicious and false.

The letter, sent Monday, says statements from the party include "defamatory and injurious insinuations" about Kinsella, who was B.C. Liberals Leader Gordon Campbell's campaign co-chairman in the previous two provincial elections. The statements suggest Kinsella "is using his influence with politicians for unfair personal gain," it says.

"These are false and highly damaging allegations," the letter says.

Kinsella's name has surfaced at the trial of Dave Basi, aide to former finance minister Gary Collins, and Bobby Virk, who worked for then-transportation minister Judith Reid. The two were charged with fraud and breach of trust following the unprecedented 2003 police raid on the B.C. legislature. Former government communications officer Aneal Basi is accused of money laundering.

The Crown alleges that Basi and Virk received benefits from OmniTRAX, which was in the running to purchase Crown-owned BC Rail. The Crown believes the pair were, in turn, providing confidential government documents regarding the sale.

The NDP allegations arose from statements made by defence lawyers, who have reviewed emails disclosed in conjunction with that trial.

On the weekend, NDP Leader Carole James named Kinsella in a speech to supporters in Prince George, B.C., saying Campbell "has gone too far with his rewards to friends and insiders.

"He refuses to answer questions,'' James said in a speech, a copy of which is posted on the NDP website.

NDP attorney general critic Leonard Krog has asked RCMP to investigate the deal.

The letter from Kinsella's lawyer called it a "shameful display" made at the expense of a private citizen.

"Mr. Kinsella did not receive $300,000 from the Campbell government to help sell BC Rail," the letter says.

It is the first time Kinsella has responded to the allegations.

The letter demands an apology within three days but James said she will continue to hold the Liberals accountable.

"The public interest comes first," James told reporters on the campaign trail on Tuesday. "There are very serious concerns about the sale of BC Rail, our railway, another broken promise by this government so I'm going to continue to make sure that the public interest is served and I raise those questions on behalf of the public."

Krog said he would not be deterred either, but neither New Democrat repeated the allegations on Tuesday.

The premier and Liberal caucus have declined to respond to the allegations, saying the case is before the courts. Campbell has said he hasn't spoken to his former campaign chairman in ages.

Dene Moore reports for The Canadian Press.

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